Are Pigeons Blind? 5 Facts You Should Know

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Are Pigeons Blind? 5 Facts You Should Know

Pigeons are curious animals with distinct eyes. But are they blind? Let us learn more about it.

Pigeons are not blind and, in fact, have a spectacular vision. Like humans, they can see color, even ultraviolet light, which we cannot see. This is why they are often used in rescue missions for people and ships lost at sea.

The all-around vision combined with excellent perceptibility gives pigeons an added edge over other birds. Allow us to take you through a few key facts you should know about pigeons and their vision.

Image Credits: “Pigeon” by detsang is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Are all pigeons blind?

All pigeons are not blind, but there are several pigeons who are either born blind or become blind due to an accident. Some pigeons also lose their eyesight when they are quite young. There have also been instances of pigeons being born with one eye unformed.

One-eyed pigeons can still find food and pick it for themselves. However, being blind in one eye can complicate things for them and make them vulnerable to predators. 

Image Credits: “Pigeon” by robert.claypool is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Are pigeons born blind?

Pigeons may be born blind, but it may not be possible to detect it unless it becomes obvious that they have some underlying disease. Vision loss at birth can be either total or partial for them. Altricial pigeons are underdeveloped and born blind, but their nuclear opacity disappears within 4 weeks. 

Are pigeons blind at night?

Several animals do not have proper night vision. But are pigeons one of them? Let us find out.

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Pigeons aren’t completely blind at night, but the strength of their vision is reduced as they are not nocturnal birds, and their eyes are specifically designed to see the light clearly. Although they have excellent vision and can make their way through the dark, their vision during the day is much better.

Are pigeons color blind?

Pigeons are not color blind, and their line of vision is even better than human beings. They can see all the colors that humans see and can also see ultraviolet light and distinguish between different color shades. In addition, pigeons also have an excellent sense of depth and distance.

We must add here that birds are tetrachromats meaning they can see four colors: red, green, blue, and UV, whereas human beings can see only red, green, and blue and are called trichromats.

Are all birds scared of mirrors?

Although all birds are not scared of mirrors, most of them are. Some such as the magpie, have passed the mirror test. This means that they can recognize their reflection and are not easily repelled by the installation of mirrors or shiny surfaces.

Magpies are perhaps the only bird species that have passed the mirror test. Although there have been instances of several bird species, even pigeons, recognizing their reflection, they do not pass the MSR test.  

Are pigeons scared of mirrors?

Image Credits: “Pigeon on the ice” by Jola Fallach is marked with CC0 1.0.

Pigeons are scared of mirrors. This is because they do not understand the concept of reflection and cannot recognize themselves in the mirror. Instead, they see their image in the mirror as another bird and can get quite scared and, sometimes, even aggressive. 

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Often, shiny objects such as small mirrors, CDs, aluminum foils, etc., are installed by people on their porches to ensure pigeons and other birds stay away. Seeing their reflection on a shiny surface is likely to scare these birds away.

Can a blind pigeon survive?

Blind pigeons can survive, but it may be difficult for them to survive in the wild since they have to face extreme weather conditions and numerous predators. However, they may learn to fend for themselves, and they do much better in captivity as they receive help from their owners. 

Can blind pigeons fly?

Blind pigeons will not be able to fly because birds rely on their vision for proper navigation. Without being able to see, pigeons might crash into obstacles and get themselves killed. Besides, pigeons learn to fly by observing other pigeons. However, without their vision, this would not be possible.

Do pigeons become blind with age?

Image Credits: “Pigeon” by Elsie esq. is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Human eyesight becomes significantly worse as we age. But is that the case with pigeons as well? Let us find out.

Pigeons can become blind with age. They can develop cataracts either due to old age or disease and trauma to the eye. Pigeons may also develop cataracts due to nutritional deficiencies and metabolic diseases.

Some pigeons may need surgical intervention, while others can continue to live with cataracts. It may also be possible for some pigeons to not develop poor eyesight with age. 

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Can pigeons see in all angles?

Pigeons can see in all angles as their vision is nearly 360 degrees (340 to be precise). Their eyes are located sideways which makes it possible for them to see in all directions and they are always alert and it is difficult to sneak up on them. 

It is also worth mentioning that pigeons process what they see way faster than humans. They also have a monocular vision which makes it easy for them to see two objects in one go.

Conclusion

Pigeons are a highly revered bird within several communities and have also been domesticated since times immemorial. In the wild, these birds are predated upon by falcons and sparrowhawks, but the biggest threat to them comes from human beings. They are highly intelligent animals who use different methods to remember directions and ensure seamless navigation for themselves.

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